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Full text of "My Country And My People"

SOCIAL   AND    POLITICAL    LIFE           167

them, but we do not like to have them in the family. When we
see a boy who has too much public spirit getting himself
into all sorts of scrapes, we confidently predict that boy will be
the death of his parents. If we can break him early enough, well
and good; if not, he will go to jail and ruin the family fortune
besides. But it isn't always as bad as that. If we cannot break
him, he will probably run away from home and join the public-
spirited brigands. That is why they are "deviations."

How is such a state of things possible? The Chinese are not
such heathens, deep-drowned in their sins, as the Christian
missionaries would imagine, although here the word "heathen,"
with all the force of Christian contempt and condemnation,
seems eminently applicable. It would be better if the mission-
aries tried to understand them and attack the evil from its
source, for back of it is a social philosophy different from theirs.
The difference is a difference of point of view. The best
modern educated Chinese still cannot understand why Western
women should organize a "Society for the Prevention of
Cruelty to Animals." Why bother about the dogs, and why do
they not stay at home and nurse their babies? We decide that
these women have no children and therefore have nothing
better to do, which is probably often true. The conflict is
between the family mind and the social mind. If one scratches
deep enough, one always finds the family mind at work.

For the family system is the root of Chinese society, from
which all Chinese social characteristics derive. The family
system and the village system, which is the family raised to a
higher exponent, account for all there is to explain in the
Chinese social life. Face, favour, privilege, gratitude, courtesy,
official corruption, public institutions, the school, the guild,
philanthropy, hospitality, justice, and finally the whole govern-
ment of China—all spring from the family and village system,
all borrow from it their peculiar tenor and complexion, and
all find in it enlightening explanations for their peculiar
characteristics. For from the family system there arises the
family mind, and from the family mind there arise certain
laws of social behaviour. It will be interesting to study these
and see how man behaves as a social being in the absence of a
social mind.